Hello and welcome to (the return of) Mixtape Monday! Today we're jumping back in right where we left off with Somewhat Alphabetical Mixtape QQ. If you're new to Mixtape Monday, you probably won't know that this tape is a TDK SA90 like nearly all the other tapes featured in this space. You may also not be aware that back when I first dubbed these tapes in the mid-80s, I only labeled the tape and the jcard (as pictured), rarely writing neither artists nor titles on it so that it was a surprise for the intended listener, the pretty girl with the big brown eyes.
Now that you're all up to speed, let's pop QQ into the tape deck and give it a listen:
- The first song creeps quietly in and I recognize "Wildfire" immediately as the first cut on an album Dad used to listen to sometimes when he wasn't in the best of moods though if you quizzed me right now I could only tell you it was followed by the more joyful song "Carolina In The Pines" on the Blue Sky-Night Thunder album.
- The second song on QQ is "Sometimes When We Touch", another moody track from another singer-songwriter. I'm beginning to think this isn't going to be much of a happy tape and we're only six minutes in.
- The mood picks up a bit but not much as the quiet opening of ABBA's "Fernando" follows and I realize I've now included a song from 1975, 1977 and now 1976.
- KISS comes next with their surprise hit totally off-brand power ballad "Beth". I've mentioned more than once how I was not allowed to have KISS records growing up but that day in 1986 over back home with Dad's collection, he had the "Beth" b/w "Detroit Rock City" 45.
- "Right Time Of The Night" is the fifth song on side A of QQ. It is also from 1976 and I've now figured out what I think this tape is or rather when it was dubbed in the grand scheme of things. All of these songs are from Dad's albums and 45s rather than my own.
- Eric Carmen's "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" is next and the mournful vibe plays on. I will say it is so much better than his "All By Myself" but pales for me next to "She Did It".
- Known almost exclusively for their funky upbeat disco dancefloor hits, KC & the Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go" was one of a handful of de facto slow jams at the junior high dances I attended in 1979 and 1980. Did I ever dance with a girl while it played back then? No, I don't think I ever did.
- Track number 8 returns us to 1976 with a woeful tale of a couple breaking up. Not just any couple but a couple cheating on their significant others every day at the same place and same time. This meant nothing when I was 10 years old but now, after 32 years of marriage, I just don't know where they found the time.
- After pausing the playback and taking a brief break to walk across the room and lay a couple of kisses on my lady, I returned to fire up the tape though I kind of knew what was coming. The very pretty "After The Love Has Gone" comes pouring out of my headphones and I'm thinking the sad lyrics are betrayed by the not-too-sad music.
- The sounds of seabirds fade in and out and then the light guitar heralds the arrival of Bertie Higgins and his "Just Another Day In Paradise" from the album of the same name.
- Bertie follows himself to close-out side A with "Key Largo". At this point, I'm nearly 100% certain I'll be mining four maybe five of Dad's albums for the entirety of the tape's second side. Fair warning to those following along at home: Side B does not get any happier.
So yeah, Side B of QQ kicks off with fourteen consecutive Jim Croce tracks from the albums You Don't Mess Around With Jim, I Got A Name and Life And Times. None of them are upbeat. The tape then ends with a track apiece from Eric Clapton and Elton John, arguably the most positive happy tracks on the whole tape. I do not blame you if you did not listen all the way through. This tape was a bummer. But there is a reason.
This is definitely the tape after The Break-Up Tape of May 22, 1986, which we wrote about back in May 2014. QQ was most likely recorded in the wee hours of May 23rd as it was a sleepless night back at his parents' home for this heartbroken muchacho as he wallowed in his sadness seeking solace and expression in music while limited to what his Dad had in his collection.